So many Americans are desperately trying to lose weight it should be no surprise that there are people willing to take advantage of them by selling untested, ineffective or unsafe products or services.
According to a survey by the Federal Trade Commission, in 2005, 30.2 million adults were victims of fraud. The largest category — affecting 4.8 million Americans — were weight loss scams. FTC Releases Consumer Fraud Survey
Some of the time, state attorneys general and local prosecutors try to prosecute cases of fraud. But most of the enforcement work has fallen to two US government agencies, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. Here are summaries of their activities
a. The FTC has asked the media to police the weight loss claims that they publish or broadcast. FTC Releases Guidance to Media on False Weight-Loss Claims following a workshop on advertising practices
b.They publish Red Flags to warn consumers against bogus weight loss web sites. Red Flag Bogus Claims
c. They have worked with Mexico and Canada to police international scams United States, Mexico, Canada (MUCH) Combat Weight Loss Fraud
d. See examples of recent regulatory enforcement Internet Marketers of Dietary Supplement for Weight Loss Agree to Pay $150,000 and FTC Targets Weight-Loss Marketers’ Allegedly Bogus ‘Free’ Sample Offers and Marketers of Weight-Loss Patch to Pay More Than $110,000 for Violating Previous FTC Settlements
The Food and Drug Administration has jurisdiction over dietary supplements (with the Federal Trade Commission as well as other dangerous weight loss products.
They have issued this guide to contaminated weight loss products Questions and Answers about FDA’s Initiative Against Contaminated Weight Loss Products
The FDA’s list of dangerous weight loss products can be found here: FDA Uncovers Additional Tainted Weight Loss Products. Some of their most recent enforcement came against products containing hydroxcut FDA Warns Consumers Not to Use Dietary Supplements Labeled Hydroxycut because of the Potential Risk of Severe Liver Injury
Types of health care frauds and how to report them are available at FDA 101: Health Fraud Awareness